Zucchini Bread?

Seriously?  <Insert yawning emoji here>  Zucchini bread?  That's all you've got?  This is what's playing through my head right now because I'm not sure there's any food item more pedestrian that I could have chosen to put out there.  Well, maybe besides banana bread, which, yes, I've done that one too.

If truth be told, I've never been all that impressed with zucchini bread.  It's not that I don't like it, it's more that it's been done.  Everywhere by everyone.  So with 7,500 recipes to choose from, why on earth would you even still be reading this?  (but glad you are).

There are actually 2 reasons why zucchini bread is showing up here, the first being an abundance of zucchini in my fridge.  I will admit to a sort of weakness where zucchini is concerned, especially this time of year when it's at its peak, so I had quite a lot of it in the veggie bin.  And then my son and daughter-in-law brought me some from their garden.  So yeah, zucchini bread sort of came to mind. 

 Of course, I've made it before, and have a few recipes stashed away, but here's the thing... most zucchini breads aren't actually all that good for you, with copious amounts of oil and sugar which almost sort of cancels out the health benefits of zucchini. So I wanted to do something about that, which leads me to the second reason for posting this... taking on the challenge of making it just a little healthier without compromising flavor and texture.

Without boring you any more than you might already be, suffice to say, I'm pretty happy about how this turned out... moist, great flavor, awesome texture and definitely a little better for you.

A couple of ways I did this was to up the amount of grated zucchini - we're using a whole 4 cups of it.  

Then I reduced the overall amount of oil and replaced some of that with applesauce and then subbed out part of the white sugar for brown which added depth of flavor and boy howdy, did it ever come out great!

So there you go, people.  I've done my part for you fellow zucchini lovers out there... a zucchini bread that needs no apologies.  And now that we've lightened it up a bit, you can feel better about slathering it with cream cheese.  Here's the recipe...

Sort of Lightened up Zucchini Bread

Click here for a printable recipe

This makes a very moist, flavorful zucchini bread, partly because we’re using 4 whole cups of grated zucchini.  To get the excess moisture out of it, I use a flour sack towel (or any thin kitchen towel will work and place the zucchini in the towel.  Pull up the ends of the towel and squeeze until you think you’ve gotten it pretty dry. Also, note that I used a sort of smallish size loaf pan.  If you only have larger ones, just reduce the cooking time to about 30-35 minutes.  I know it says that the nuts and raisins are optional, but it’s just not zucchini bread without them.  :) 

4 cups grated fresh zucchini (from 2- 3 medium-sized squash)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted) or vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup walnuts (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional, but not really)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray (2) 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 -inch loaf pans with cooking spray.  Note:  these are a little smaller than your standard loaf pan.

Place your grated zucchini in a thin kitchen towel and squeeze out any and all excess moisture from the zucchini.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and ground nutmeg.

In another large bowl, whisk together the sugars, eggs, vanilla extract. Stir in the drained, grated zucchini, the oil and applesauce.

Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, to the sugar egg zucchini mixture, stirring after each incorporation. Fold in the nuts and raisins. 

Divide the batter equally between the loaf pans. Bake for 45 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.